How long is needed before an icon can be created? Many of us don't hold the answer - but Porsche does. Half a century of the 911 has seen it become one of the benchmarks - not just in its segment, but in the automotive industry.
50 years and seven generations - few models can claim a life as long-lived as the 911. That said, the 911's recipe has raised brows since its inception. Its engine is at the wrong end of the car. The looks? Many argue that it has hardly changed at all. But for Porschephiles - it is the timeless looks that, perhaps, hold the greatest appeal of all.
It all started in 1963, when Ferdinand Alexander Porsche 'Butzi' penned the 911 to take over the 356.
The second generation came in 1973 - almost a decade after the first 911's debut. It is also this generation that spawned the famous 'Turbo' variant, which was launched in 1976 - amidst an oil crisis. But that did not stop the 911 Turbo to become one of the greatest sportscar of its time.
Codenamed '964', the third generation was massively revamped, carrying only 20 percent of its parts from its predecessor. The 'modern' 911 also incorporated new technologies, such as ABS, airbags, as well as Porsche's 'Tiptronic' automatic transmission and Carrera 4's all-wheel drive system.
The fourth generation (codenamed '993') took the centre stage in 1993. As the last generation to sport an air-cooled flat-six engine, its status in history is firmly sealed. And it remains to be one of the favourites among fans of the marque.
The fifth generation (codenamed '996') is very different from its forebears. It was bigger and has a sleeker profile, and more importantly the engine at its rump now employs water-cooling technologies. It was regarded by many as a departure from the previous 911s.
The sixth generation (dubbed '997') saw the creation of a number of new variants, such as the 911 Speedster, 911 Sports Classic, and GT2 RS - the most hardcore road-going 911 thus far.
The current generation reinvents the icon with a slew of new technologies. For instance, the GT3 ditched the old 'Metzger' block for a brand new engine. The track weapon also comes exclusively with PDK (Porsche's iteration of the dual-clutch gearbox) - no more manual transmission.
This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the 911. And as expected, there are celebrations being held at various places around the world. But nothing comes close to that at Silverstone.
At an event organised jointly by Porsche Cars GB (a Porsche-only car club in U.K.) and Silverstone Classic, a total of 1,208 911s gathered at the circuit. The scale of the event was never preceded, and sets a new world record.
It is amazing how the 911 has progressed through the years. At the same time, we too wonder how long the 'evergreen' design is here to stay, and if it does, how will it look ten, twenty years down the road.
Only time will tell.
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